Overcome Anxiety and Overwhelm II

Overcome Anxiety and Overwhelm II

anxious, overwhelm

 

Last time I talked about how to relieve anxiety and overwhelm by becoming aware, separating the feelings from yourself and identifying and changing self-talk. Sometimes it may be hard to access your thoughts or change them because the physical responses are so intense.

A challenge to relieving anxiety is the secondary anxiety response…the thoughts that then kick in like, “I can’t deal with this,” “I’m going crazy,” “I’ll never feel better/get over this,” even, “I’m going to die.” If one or more of these take hold, the anxiety response tends to increase, gaining its own momentum, although the situation is likely not getting worse.

It is very helpful to be able to calm your nervous system on your own, right when you need it most. If the thought-stopping tips aren’t working, here are some ways to reset, refocus and calm while feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

 

Mindfulness

Recognizing that anxiety is temporary is important…you’re not always going to feel this way. If you focus on the future, assuming you are going to keep feeling this way and that it’s hopeless, the anxiety builds on itself. If you focus on the moment—right now only, you can access your inner strengths and calm your nervous system.

Start by focusing on your senses…pay attention to what you can see, or hear, or smell, or feel outside of you. Pick one thing you notice and really focus…notice every little detail that you can. If you feel like it, change to a different sense and notice something else in detail. If you’re outside, look at a tree and notice it’s color and texture, notice each leaf or needle you can see, notice it moving in the breeze, notice a bird landing on a branch, etc. Then shift to feeling the sun on your face or arms, feeling the breeze, the ground under your feet. Notice every little detail about this.

Now start to see if you can slow your breathing a little and imagine breathing into and out of your heart space. As you feel more comfortable, slow the breath down even more and let it deepen. You can do this while paying attention to something, or close your eyes and visualize your heart, see it slowing and calming. If your breathing has slowed (likely your heart rate will follow), now think about a positive, heightened, calming emotion like love, gratitude, peace, compassion, etc. Allow your body to really feel this emotion and just notice what that’s like.

overcome anxiety

Once you feel calmer, honor yourself for being able to do so and acknowledge that you have the power to calm your nervous system and change your reactions. Recognize how quickly you were able to shift your experience just by paying attention and refocusing.

As you return to your regular activity, if you start to feel hints of the anxiety returning, stop and breathe, notice your surroundings, and remind yourself that you’re in control.

As you navigate a world full of a variety of stressors, especially if you’re experiencing anxiety often, daily meditation is so, so helpful. A regular practice helps to reset the baseline for your nervous system so it can handle more with less anxiety reaction. You can look for a recent blog post on meditation for more information, and I’ll be writing soon with tips and ways to make meditation “successful.”

Peace to you.

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